Your Blog is The Engine of Community
In a time where there is much gnashing of teeth around the meaning of community, what being on the "inside" vs. the "outside" means, I want to take a moment to remind my fellow blog writers, blog readers, blog commenters what makes it all work.
Not a secret society or old boy's network, not a select few or someone knighted by The Queen. It's the nameless, faceless web search result that makes community work.
I search all the time for help on the internet. I find blogs, tweets, Stack Overflow, MSDN and more. More often than not when I find the answer I seek it's on YOUR blog, not mine. Often it's not on a big company employee's blog or that of the chosen few. The answer was put out on a blog, without ask of payment or recognition, by a 25-year old Persian student, or a 60-year old exploring .NET, or a high school student with a passion for open source.
I, and this blog, was that random search result for at least 5 of the last 10 years. Someone searches for help and finds my little corner of the internet. Write a few blog posts a week, with useful content, consistently, for ten years. Then write some more. All free, all because you feel good putting it out there.
I would encourage you all to blog more. Tweet less. Blogs are owned by you. They are easily found, easily linked to, and great conversations happen with great blog posts. The river of social media rushes on and those conversations are long forgotten. A great blog post is forever. Today's real-time social media is quickly forgotten.
Don't be a meme, but a movement.
Blog your opinions. Blog your cool project, or your latest useful function or library. Don't blog if it feels like work. Blog and get excited when someone comments. Often the comments are more fun and more useful than the post itself. Be passionate, but not rude. Point out failings, but suggest solutions. Organize. Invent.
Be constructive, be helpful, be kind. Make your blog posts not too long, not too short, not too stream-of-consciousness and not too terse. Remember your elementary writing classes. Have a thesis, make your argument, restate your thesis.
Share because you want to. Share because you want to help, but also because you want to help yourself. Share not for the recognition but for the love of teaching.
It takes a village, dear reader, to be a community. It's you, and me and no one in between. Now, go write, create, commit.
Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
I agree with Ernie...great, inspiring post.
Alexander - If you want to try that, perhaps do it like this?
Matthew - Thanks!
Haven't watch it myself but everything I have watched there has been quite good.
What are some of your recommendations for blogging platforms and respective tools for posting to the blog?
One feature that would be important for me would be the ability to provide code samples nicely formatted and the ability to customize the look and feel of the blog to integrate well with the rest of my website.
100% agree that Twitter is becoming the sounding board and bitch fest (as I'm sure this post was somewhat provoked by a recent Twitter bashing session). Twitter is live and fresh while blog comments linger. While I'm writing this, God knows how many more comments are going through your system. Or if my comment will even save.
Something more like a StackOverFlow/Facebook system is needed for blogs where you can a) respond to comments in a thread-like fashion b) quote other peoples comments c) create links to users comments and profiles with zero effort d) likes/dislikes on comments and replies and e) see new content being added in a real-time fashion.
One thing that stood out. "More often than not when I find the answer I seek it's on YOUR blog, not mine." I find the opposite, most of the stuff I look for I find on my blog.
Maybe I'm asking the wrong questions...
For those asking about blogging platforms -- it really depends on the server it's going on. For example, if it's a Windows server there are several promising .NET blogging platforms to choose from, but none are as well established as something like Wordpress. I was trying various blogging platforms for awhile before ultimately settling on blogger. I realized that in my case it wasn't so critical that the blog sit under the same subdomain as the rest of my site. Instead my blogs are at blog.--domain--.com. Blogger is ridiculously easy to sign up for and use and I've been happy with it.
If your *primary* goal is to produce content, then I'd go with an existing blog engine.
If your *primary* goal is to either a) learn a new technology or b) showcase your abilities with a technology, then I'd build my own.
The link Scott posted is excellent food for thought.
I've been toying with a similar idea for a while. Dynamically serving content from a database is great if you have dynamic data. If you have static blog content, then you are driving a giant RV to pick up a friend from the airport; you can do it, but it isn't the most efficient way. Unless your friend is all dynamic and stuff.
Actually I end up learning a lot more about a certain topic when writing an article about it and to get response back for the effort makes it also worth it.
Step by step ...
I went and installed FunnelWeb to try it out. Looked good so I uploaded to my host to experiment further - Discovered that I got a new years present from my hosting company - they dropped .Net 4 support!
I guess I need to find a new host for my site before playing further with the blogs :(
We have the most liberating and powerful communication medium ever created. I'd hate to see technology leaders squander it.
Me, too! That is my plan - build a new blog with Rails as part of my learning Ruby on Rails for hobby. I am an analyst but I want to become a real programmer for hobby and side projects. I have built some small apps with C#, but I remained on the "student" level on my pursuit of programming with .Net/C#. I hope to change that with Ruby on Rails.
Take a look at wordpress.org
Completely agree with all points here. My only wish is that I would get less blog search results that were nothing more than somebody cutting-and-pasting data from MSDN or Sql Server Books Online. Get out there, but be original or at the very least, helpful.
For those wanting to get started, Brent Ozar (twitter | blog) has a fantastic series about writing a technical blog:
1. How to Start a Blog
2. Configuring WordPress
3. WordPress Plugins
4. WordPress Themes
5. Blog Etiquette
It was a great guide for me when I was getting started. He also has a lot of great posts on SEO, etc.
Get the thoughts flowing and build your body of work. The other details can be worked out, the substance of your blog can always be ported, the hosting company can always be changed, etc.
I can't speak for anyone else, but if I decided that I needed the blog to be perfectly formatted, hosted, written, etc, I would have a great excuse to put off starting a blog indefinitely.
As always I greatly appreciate your posts; they are always insightful. This is an important topic to me, so bear with a little devil's advocacy here. First...
I understand and agree that open participation breeds healthy community, and from that everyone prospers.
More so, it's great when participants are Christ-like and give without expecting return or compensation... and when they truly contribute rather than fluff their ego.
And there are certainly more of these "faceless people" than there are those in an "old boy's network" or "knighted by the Queen" (nicely put by way)... or even the Big Johns and Scotts...
But what of the nameless people who constantly trail in the wake of others' accomplishments? There are those who - as passionate as we are about something we've learned, or genuine as we are with our sharing - will always be the 84th person to post about building a JSON API on top of the MVC framework.
If their answers are as profoundly important as you say, would it not feel discouraging to remain faceless? Those with aspirations of accomplishment - minimal or grandiose, material or spiritual - are sure to feel like they remain destined to be a faceless digital shilouette sometimes...
This discouragement makes its difficult for earnest community members to be tenacious at times as we are not all Christ-like, and no one like's to feel 532nd best.
I would like to blog in both Spanish and English, however I haven't found any blog engine that does localization nicely, out of the box. The closest I found was WordPress (with some plugins) or this version of .NETBlogEngine (not longer maintained).
I had been looking on .NET blog engines like SubText, dassBlog, NETBlogEngine and FunnelWebBlog. I haven't decided yet which one to use, but I'm willing to modify the one of my preference to support posting in different languages. Does anyone know any blog that meets this requirement?
The problem seems to be that while every passionate programmer has coded some great things, it takes time (usually boring unfortunately) to take them out of their integrated environment to be genuinely useful/helpful to other programmers.
And then even more time to write some body around the code to convince people that it is actually pretty good stuff.
I've been thinking about a LINQ 'cheat sheet', I found some, but none covered what I really needed in a format as concise as I'd like.
Time to blog perhaps :)
You're definitely right on that idea: more posts certainly does help with discoverability and also keeps those new-found followers. I've come across many a blog, but with the limited attention span of a 14-year-old, I have stuck with this one because of the regularity of postings and the quality of them. Keep it up!
Ended up going for a simple WordPress blog where I have tried to keep most things default and simple. I can then focus a lot easier on blogging on my blog. Having fun with platforms, tools, new languages and all that, I can do other places... and then blog about it on my WordPress blog ;)
Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu - A person is a person because of people
I really believe the fostering a sense of community (what we call Ubuntu in sunny South Africa) is really what we need to do here. Any contribution (be they from any channel - blog, twitter, SO, etc.) can move that community forward and should be encouraged.
I definitely think that the contribution that you have made to .NET, and development community in general, cannot be applauded enough.
Thanks for all your hard work Scott, I'm sure I'm not the only one that is grateful for it :)
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu summed Ubuntu up pretty well in his book "No Future without Forgiveness"
A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.
As a developer I enjoy finding solutions in blogs verses answer sites. It puts emotion, logic, and reality into the solution. Answer sites are usually: Step 1-2-3-Done! Blog solutions are detailed with explanations on this is what I did and why at each step.
The blog community is awesome!
Jamie (aka @Tevyn)
Nice comment. After my 'bit of a downer' post, it was refreshing and reaffirming. It was also cool to learn what Ubunto means after hearing the term in the computer world. I will read more on it... and I guess it simply proves what you and Scott were saying... a single sentence has the potential to make change in others. Thanks again.
I guess every blogger need to know how to market them also ? any pointers to that subject.
While I didn't took the time for a while to continue with it, bad behavior, spend my time on other things :-). Thanks Scott for the reminder, need to spend more time blogging :-)
I don't think it's about the amount of visitors you get. Someone will at some point in time find it and start a conversation about it and then you are able to gain knowledge and improve some skill. I think it's more important to see blogging as a learning experience for yourself. It's a lot harder to explain something then to understand it. This will help you and let you think in a different way towards the things you think to know.
It took me ages to start, because I wanted a site which looks nice and was basically custom made. At the end I just sat down, installed something and decided I will start with this and then later on fix how it looks, but I must start. Still using that today and never took any more time to finish up the custom stuff that took ages to create.
Daily Routine of a 4 Hour Programmer and its generating a lot of traffic because I assume its a story other developers are interested.
So I guess as long as I write articles that benefit other developers the word will get out.
1. I feel, Am I writing something that many others already have written?
2. Is the topic is too elementary?
Sometimes swimming around different topics also moves the concentration around and thus many writings do not complete.
Do you have any suggestion?
I feel much the same. Like I am would be the 300th person to write about using Ninject in an MVC app, or to showcase EF4's code-first in a demo app, etc. I feel silly offering something that can be found in many places already. Chances are, I learned it from someone else's blog, or free training... which means I'm likely just republishing at times. That's an obstacle for me getting my blog moving.
I've started my own development blog this Januar 2th and found myself smiling while reading this post today. It was a nice coincidence I guess. I even quoted your first blog post in my first one...can you guess where?
I'm ashamed to confess this time I haven't read the comments and went straight down to the form, but the feeling I had just went over me.
What more can I say? I agree in each point stated in this blog, and I try to blog just like that, but sometimes it just gets hard to find the balance between technical content, amusing writing and the blogger-mood. So perhaps it takes a day or two, or even more, to write a post I actually like.
I'd love if you could take a look at mines and throw me some feedback or something.
Yes, I have started to blog again.
My goal is at least once or twice a week. Let's see how it goes.
but i can't get my peers to participate. They see the value, but it's the same old excuse over and over: i don't have time. I don't know how you get past this, if anyone has suggestions that have lead to success in their organizations please share them.
good post Scott
Also, for those if you looking start a blog, check out "Geeks With Blogs". They do all the work hosting the site, leaving you free to blog.
I completely agree, blogging is best, but it is something you need to spend time on, and that is my only challenge...
Its very nice article for early stage bloggers.Who is having 2 minds about his/her blog future.And also bloggers can use LinkedIn,G+,Twitter and stack overflow for bring users for there blog.
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